October 2019

Bird Videos

It's hard to be online for any length of time without becoming aware that there is something called a "cat video", usually intended to be funny. What might be unexpected is that there are also videos for cats. Given the issues around protecting wild birds from outdoor cats, it shouldn't be surprising that some compassionate kitty-lovers have uploaded bird videos for cats[1] who are stuck inside. Don't think it works? Check it out with a cat, even an outdoor-enabled one! You might also discover that this particular link leads to a colorful set of birds from Wales that are unfamiliar to you. Want to ID them? See the next paragraph.

Start with the Free trip to Colombia[2] video offered by eBird's Merlin app. The contest will be over by the time this article is published, but (scroll down the page) the wonderful photography and amazing soundtrack make not only an engaging avian travelog, but also an opportunity to practice Merlin's photo ID capabilities[3]. The variety and complexity of bird song offered in the video is likely a greater challenge than image recognition, as was discussed in the Feb 2019 article. An upcoming article will describe the Merlin app more fully.

The musicality of bird song has often been remarked upon, but rarely has a composer (other than Mozart?) actually incorporated it into their work. In a genuinely triumphant achievement (you'll see), Bird Song Opera[4] by Volker Pannes blends music from Mozart's Papageno with video and audio of singing birds in a brilliant display of editing and auditory exuberance.

The inspiration from birds for musical composition is perhaps nowhere better - or more creatively - shown than in the all-too-brief Birds On The Wires[5] (a Favorite), from Brazil. This winner of the YouTube Play Guggenheim Biennial Festival, is breathtaking in its simplicity, concept, and hauntingly evocative result. It's hard to avoid having a changed perception of bird behavior after watching and hearing it, while the shadow-play masterpiece Let Nature Sing[6] from the UK RSPB is intentionally designed to stir our emotions. Both videos are true works of art.

Finally, the wealth of excellent, bird-centered video programs available through the US Public Broadcasting System is not only amazing for its depth and breadth, but also for the fact that many of the non-commercial presentations can be accessed through the web as well as seen on broadcast or streamed TV. Two birding episodes of Outdoor Idaho from that state's Public Television channel stand out for their scenery[7] and human interest[8], as well as the featured birds.

The Bird Wide Web™ will be publishing a new article on the beginning of each month.

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